The dapper ladies and gentlemen of the Congo: Immaculate ‘Sapeurs’ turn heads as they stroll through slums in their incredible outfits
- Photographs have captured the dapper ladies and gentlemen of the Congo who dress as debonair dandies
- British photographer Tariq Zaidi presents a fashion subculture whose followers are known as ‘Sapeurs’
- Sashaying through the streets they are treated like rock stars, bringing ‘joie de vivre’ to their communities
Photographs have captured the dapper ladies and gentlemen of the Congo who turn heads as they stroll through slums in their incredible outfits.
British photographer Tariq Zaidi presents a fashion subculture of Kinshasa & Brazzaville: La Sape, Society of Ambiance-Makers & Elegant People.
Its followers are known as ‘Sapeurs’ or ‘Sapeuses’. Most have ordinary day jobs as taxi-drivers, tailors and gardeners, but as soon as they clock off they transform themselves into debonair dandies.
Sashaying through the streets they are treated like rock stars – turning heads, bringing ‘joie de vivre’ to their communities and defying their circumstances.
Tariq’s book Sapeurs: Ladies and Gentlemen of the Congo is out now.
Clementine Biniakoulou, a 52-year-old housewife and sapeuse for 36 years, pictured in Brazzaville, the capital and largest city of the Republic of the Congo
Elie Fontaine Nsassoni, a 45-year-old taxi owner and sapeur for 35 years, strolls through the slums in a blue suit
Maxime Pivot Mabanza, a 43-year-old teacher of La Sape and sapeur for 36 years, poses next to a heard of goats in a pin striped blazer and vibrant orange trousers
Ntsimba Marie Jeanne, a 52-year-old businesswoman and sapeuse for 20 years, Okili Nkoressa, a 10-year-old school student and sapeur for five years, and Judith Nkoressa, a 39-year-old policewoman and sapeuse for 18 years, turn heads as they walk down a street in Brazzaville
48-year-old businesswoman and sapeuse for 36 years Nkodia Aurelie poses with a blazer, orange bow tie and matching umbrella
Businesswoman Ella Kiadi poses in a blue suit in Brazzaville. ‘True Sapologie is about more than expensive labels: the true art lies in a sapeur’s ability to put together an elegant look unique to their personality,’ photographer Tariq Zaidi said
Kass Makenga, clothes seller and sapeur for 20 years, in Brazzaville, left, and Six Lokoto, 28-year-old model and sapeur for 20 years, in Kinshasa, right
Yamea Bansimba Jean Claude, 58-year-old bricklayer and sapeur for 50 years, in Brazzaville
Technician Blazer Matsokota dances in a brightly-coloured suit as he is followed by a crowd of children in Brazzaville
Natan Mahata, an 8-year-old school student and sapeur for 3 years, pictured in Kinshasa. ‘Brazzaville and Kinshasa are on opposite banks of the Congo River, almost directly across from one another, yet they have different styles. In Brazzaville, La Sape is mainly ‘French style’ (think exquisite suits), but in Kinshasa anything goes, from Japanese Yamamoto coats to Scottish kilts,’ Mr Zaida said
51-year-old human resources manager Basile Gandzion pictured in Brazzaville with a dapper brown suit and hat
Human resorces manager Basile Gandzion, left, and 14-year-old Francis Okiemi with Steven Okiemi, 9, right
Israell Mbona, 5-year-old school student and sapeur for 3 years, in Kinshasa. Tariq Zaidi is a freelance photographer based out of London, UK. In 2014, he gave up an executive management position to pursue his passion of capturing the dignity, strength and soul of people, within their environment